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UNLV students demand details, apology for threat notification delay

Updated October 18, 2019 - 6:35 pm

UNLV students want to know why the university took more than five days to warn the campus about a shooting threat targeting African-American students and supporters of Bernie Sanders.

A letter from the UNLV’s Residence Hall Association, a group that plans activities for students who live on campus, said the threat was first discovered in a bathroom stall late last week, but UNLV waited until a day and a half before a threatened shooting on Wednesday to send a mass warning to students.

It asks UNLV President Marta Meana to apologize to the black student body, Sanders supporters and the student body as a whole for withholding information that pertains to their well-being. The letter calls on the university to pay for campus security guards for the residential complexes. The university planned to phase out the positions, according to the letter, in favor of hiring student security teams.

UNLV representative Cindy Brown said the university is in contact with the RHA regarding the letter.

“A message to students, faculty, and staff was drafted soon after the threat on the bathroom stall was reported last week,” Brown said. “However, it was necessary to await results of the law enforcement investigation before sending the message.”

The letter acknowledged that the university may have wanted to minimize mass concerns by waiting to release a statement during an ongoing investigation, but it called the five-and-a-half day delay “unacceptable.”

“For those of us who live on campus, UNLV is our home. We have a right to know when our lives are being threatened,” the letter said. “While everyone in the offices of higher administration has the privilege of driving home to a well-protected house far from Maryland Parkway, the students we represent have to wonder if the person who made this threat is lurking in our halls.”

University representatives said Wednesday that an investigation with local police and the FBI is ongoing. The threat had been circulating on social media since at least Oct. 11, but the university did not provide the day it was first reported.

At a State of the University address Wednesday, Meana said the threat was determined to be unsubstantiated, but the administration decided to “show an abundance of caution and let the campus know so they could make a choice of whether to be here or not.”

Meana added that UNLV comprises thousands of people who reject the vitriolic views contained in the note.

The Review-Journal first contacted the university about the threat at noon Monday. The university sent an all-campus email warning of the threat around 4 p.m. the same day.

On social media, the Black Student Organization and the African Student Association have drawn links between the note and other incidents on campus targeting African-American students, including a note found on campus last year that said, “Kill the Blacks.”

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at aappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0218. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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